Find the Mildreds.
September 22, 2020 2:50 AM   Subscribe

It’s been eighteen years... what do you remember about the “D.C. Snipers”? Earlier this year Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall dedicated four forensically empathetic episodes of their podcast You’re Wrong About to revisiting what the series of shootings were about - a deep-dive examination of media, police and justice system blind spots through a rereading of the available sources that document the forestory, the events, and the judicial aftermath. (Their apt TW: “We are unable to conceive of a content warning comprehensive enough for all the horrors contained in these episodes.”)

Previously: MeFi blind spots October 12th and 15th, 2002.
(YWA on Patreon, Stitcher, Spotify, ApplePodcasts.)
posted by progosk (35 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Previously: MeFi blind spots

If you were aiming to mystify with this, it worked
posted by thelonius at 4:40 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are there transcripts of the podcast episodes?
posted by ardgedee at 4:58 AM on September 22, 2020 [10 favorites]

Really interesting podcast. And one of the few times I was genuiunely wrong about the topic. (I still very much enjoy the podcast even if a more accurate name might be "you've never heard about.")
posted by eotvos at 5:18 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I remember being extremely stressed when getting gas for a couple of weeks.
posted by sudama at 5:29 AM on September 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

Are there transcripts of the podcast episodes?

Given their conversational style, it seems unlikely; I tried looking and haven’t come across any...

If you were aiming to mystify with this, it worked

Tie in (given that the MeFi threads, occurring as they were during the spree itself, exhibit similar preconceived notions and cultural conditioning as the other spheres of discourse the podcast examines) more than mistify, actually; I’m sorry if the “Previously” wasn’t enough to make the connection.
posted by progosk at 5:57 AM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Previously: MeFi blind spots

Reading those two threads, I just think: this place has changed for the better since then. (Not perfect, but better.)
posted by wenestvedt at 5:58 AM on September 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Me giving my new husband a tour of my hometown (Bellingham WA) last year: "And that's the shelter where the DC snipers lived!"
posted by Jacqueline at 6:14 AM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I remember everyone losing their goddam minds. I had been a stressful few years: protests, a contested presidential election, 9/11, anthrax, and finally a sniper. It had been a lot and people were on edge.

I was going to college at a downtown DC university. There were so many rumors despite most of the shootings happening in the suburbs and most of us didn't leave campus much. There was speculation that it was a right wing married couple. The vehicle was rumored to be a white van, so people would visibly blanch when they saw one. Students would demand that we draw the blinds for all classrooms with windows.

There was tension about the sniper that was different than 9/11 or Anthrax. All three events had the sensation of waiting on edge for the other shoe to drop, but for the sniper it just built and built with each shooting. And when the shooters were caught there was brief interest in them (one rumor was right - there were two people), but mostly relief that pumping gas under a tarp was no longer necessary. No one cared why they did it in the end, they just didn't want to look over their shoulders anymore.
posted by Alison at 6:15 AM on September 22, 2020 [9 favorites]

Are there transcripts of the podcast episodes?

Fittingly, it appears I was WA this: there are some, curated (Koko The Gorilla) or not (via happyscribe); also Podcast9 claims their app provides them all...

posted by progosk at 6:16 AM on September 22, 2020

These episodes were incredible. Also, this is probably my favorite podcast in general.

(If you want a non-gut punch episode to to follow up, let me recommend the recent, lovely “Disco Demolition Night” episode).
posted by thivaia at 6:48 AM on September 22, 2020 [6 favorites]

I binge-listened to all of their episodes last month; this is such a great podcast. It also makes me anxious for the inevitable future "You're Wrong About: Coronavirus" episode.
posted by chara at 7:17 AM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

This podcast has been getting me thru quarantine. The first ones I listed to were the OJ Simpson ones and they're amazing.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:31 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

These are some of my favorite episodes of the podcast, in large part because I was living in NoVa at the time and distinctly remember feeling a chill at the back of my neck while pumping gas. Some of the things I did indeed know about but the contextual framework they put the story in really helps.
posted by PussKillian at 7:33 AM on September 22, 2020

I literally just finished listening to these last night -- I lived in Potomac at the time of the attacks, so I was surprised how much of the story I didn't know. Also I had a nightmare last night that I'm 100% sure came from the last episode, so maybe not cool before bedtime for everyone...
posted by Mchelly at 8:48 AM on September 22, 2020

Two Virginia DJs, billing themselves as Kool J Muhammad and DJ Malvo, made a DC-sniper-themed mixtape called 'Born to Kill.'

In case the previous sentence somehow didn't convey it: it is very offensive.
posted by box at 9:23 AM on September 22, 2020

I'm listening to this now. I was living in the DC area at the time (had just recently separated from my first wife and moved out to Manassas, VA), and I remember the tense conversations I had with the woman I was just starting to date, phone calls and beeper texts when we were going somewhere, especially if we had to stop for gas.

And it's weird to find out that Mildred's mom and sister lived in the town outside DC that I grew up in.
posted by hanov3r at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2020

i think i remember this pretty well, including the principals' names, the tarot card, the michael's craft shops, the security theater, and the resulting criminal cases. haven't revisited much (but do think of it every time i pass a michael's). haven't listened to the podcast yet (ep. 1 is playing now). i do recall the widespread inchoate fear. don't recall significant public certainty that the gunmen were a white serial killer, but do recall it being understood as "islamic terrorism" of the kind we might have expected from the thousands of al-qaeda sleepers who had already infiltrated the "homeland." in fact, because among the publicized suspicious indicia was the possibility that the sniper drove a "white step-van," and because the persian immigrant family who lived next door to -- and were quite friendly with -- my parents had a white van (not a step-van, but a working, hardware-and-tool-filled van, ladders on the roof and all), my sister's husband aired his patriotic suspicion of them to the fbi, i learned some years later. those neighbors, it turned out, were not the snipers. later still, i was not selected to volunteer on malvo's defense team.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:03 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I also discovered the podcast early on in the pandemic and found bingeing it helped immensely as escapism in those tense first few months. This DC Sniper series was probably the most memorable. The shooter (I do think of him singularly, since the teen was quite obviously in some sort of brainwashed cult state) was such a strange, horrifying, fascinating character. Obviously suffering a deep undiagnosed mental illness, but at the same time amazingly high functioning. One of the strangest recurring details was the way he would casually seduce any woman who crossed his path, ranging from one night stands to years long relationships.

But yeah, You're Wrong About is great. Such natural chemistry between the two of them. Another little detail that sticks in my mind from the Sniper series is Michael casually mentioning that when they were finally captured they were listening to a Tracy Chapman cd, and Sarah interrupts with "Wait how could they bring Tracy into this? You motherfuckers!!!"
posted by mannequito at 10:22 AM on September 22, 2020 [8 favorites]

This feels like a good example of how scrambled the last two decades have been: despite living in DC at the time, reading this description made me think, wait, the sniper incident happened after 9/11?! What?!

I listened to (a different episode of) this podcast last week--it was a single episode about Courtney Love. This is quite a departure from that. That's some range.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Michael Hobbes interviewed me and read some of my research on the Disco Demolition Night podcast and I was SO DELIGHTED.

Also: Sarah Marshall is an international treasure.
posted by LMGM at 1:35 PM on September 22, 2020 [15 favorites]

Really enjoying the binge this post initiated: "Afterschool Specials" is something of a respite after "Crack Babies". Thanks for posting.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:39 PM on September 22, 2020

These episodes about the Snipers are utterly fascinating. I'm looking forward to the others.
posted by johnofjack at 3:17 PM on September 22, 2020

I was in my senior year of high school in Potomac (Mchelly, we probably know people in common) and I mostly remember how mad the whole senior class was: we were supposed to be able to leave campus for lunch, finally, and instead we ate lunch in our classrooms for most of the year — not even in the cafeteria, because the cafeteria had a big wall of windows facing the street.
posted by nonasuch at 3:39 PM on September 22, 2020

The human trafficking episode is really good though I gave up before the end because QAnon stuff was too stressful. Also Sarah Marshall is great fun on twitter, one of like 20 people I followed for the couple of months before I acknowledge that twitter is the end of anything good and bailed.
posted by less of course at 5:59 PM on September 22, 2020

I remember walking my dogs in my NW DC neighborhood and seeing a white van idling by the side of the road and being TERRIFIED. And my stepdaughter's school in Wheaton evacuated all of them and made them hide under the bleachers, which has always seemed really stupid. What a scary time.
posted by Cocodrillo at 6:47 PM on September 22, 2020

I had just moved to Fredericksburg VA weeks before the shootings, and the shooting from the Michael's parking lot was about 2 miles from my house, and my wife had been at that Micheal's 2X a week as we were decorating a new home.

We still took the kids trick or treating through - can't live terrified of 1 in a million chances, even when they happen close to home.
posted by COD at 7:19 PM on September 22, 2020

I also love this podcast and the DC Sniper series is excellent. Don’t miss the Jessica Simpson book club/review/discussion. It’s so good and so escapist.
posted by amanda at 8:08 PM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:42 PM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, so those blind spots are all grown up now...
posted by progosk at 12:31 AM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Is it required that podcast hosts laugh inappropriately every other statement? It s very hard to listen to, and makes the episode sound like horror fiction. Are they playing characters?
posted by eustatic at 2:16 AM on September 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thank you for recommending this. It's interesting, it's horrifying, the level of redundancy and chat is enough for roughage without taking over.

I looked for transcripts, but couldn't find anything for these particular podcasts.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:03 AM on September 23, 2020

October 12, 2002 was our wedding day... in Washington, DC.

Mostly what I recall of that time was the fear at gas stations; we'd put the pump in the tank and then get back in our cars and recline the seats.
posted by terrapin at 4:52 AM on September 23, 2020

The Monster: DC Snipers series was also good. It included a really good ep just on Mildred Muhammad who has a lot of wisdom to share. She is intelligent and inspiring.
posted by double bubble at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2020

Is it required that podcast hosts laugh inappropriately every other statement? It s very hard to listen to, and makes the episode sound like horror fiction. Are they playing characters?

eustatic, I also was a bit jarred by that... but I really get the feeling that in this case it;s "laughing so I don't cry" sort of response. Having a recorded conversation about this sort of topic has to be pretty hard on someone's psyche.
posted by cirhosis at 11:39 AM on September 23, 2020

(MeFi’s own jkottke and The New Yorker also discover YWA.)
posted by progosk at 11:37 AM on October 12, 2020

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